The Dangers Of Professional Journalism
Louie Verrecchio at Harvesting The Fruit of the VII has an interesting article about Church Militant TV. If you have hunger for more detailed names and circumstances, this article from the always excellent “Remnant” comes to your rescue and gives even more background.
I struggle – as, evidently, Louie Verrecchio himself does – to question the sincerity of Michael Voris. I just cannot persuade myself the man has no honest intentions. Rather, it seems to me a clear case of getting the wrong influence. At the same time, I reflect that it would appear that this wrong influence came about because… there was need of his money. This – let me repeat it once again – does not mean that the wrong position was wilfully embraced by Voris in exchange for financial support; but it certainly seems to corroborate the old Italian adage, that he who walks with the lame man learns to limp.
An organisation that is in the business of providing sound Catholicism is not unlikely to expose itself to this kind of influence if the business is to produce enough revenue to at least pay for its expenses. In this, it is not even so relevant whether this business aims at the distribution of a profit or not; in the end, renouncing to a dividend does not make things so much easier, taking away perhaps 10% (or perhaps much less) of the pressure to generate revenue; and whilst you can persuade some to work for less, you’ll have to pay market price for most of the services. In the end, it is fair to say that the remaining 90% to pay for the entire machinery will have to be generated – bar more massive donations, which then engender more massive influence – anyway.
Hence, you must be, broadly, mainstream. Hence, you can’t say that the Pope is wrong, or a rascal, or a heretic, or all of this together. Hence, you must pay attention that your wealthy donor does get his message out. Hence, you end up making a disservice to Catholicism. Hence, Church Militant TV, Catholic Herald, Patheos, and worse. In the case of Church Militant the personal insult to Verrecchio, Ferrara and others must be added.
I struggle to feel much compassion here. Thousands of men and women of good will get to the cybersphere to take part in the war as humble foot soldiers, and not only they do not make any money out of their blog but they even spend money to run it. Whilst they might wish that a financial reward could be attached to their activity, the reward in heaven is the reason why they blog and they therefore write gratis et amore Dei without any difficulty.
This little effort does not give a Barack Hussein if the fairly clear words therein published about the Pope – words that the blog authors feels not only can, but must be said for the good of his and his readers’ souls – cause the readership to stagnate, dwindle, or disappear. Such considerations are neither here nor there. There are no running costs to be paid, and whatever technology investment is required is paid by me gladly and without thinking twice. The freedom this gives is a luxury few businesses (and be they without the aim of a profit for the owner) are willing to afford.
If you make of journalism your profession you are a professional journalist. Even if you accept a lower pay to help the cause, you get your livelihood from it. Even if your organisation is a non profit, the necessity to make that 90-to-94% of the revenue (good is the media company that makes 6% of its revenue in net profit before taxes, and very good the one that makes 10%; very many do not make any profit at all, and the Internet isn’t going to make it easier for them) is there anyway. All this can easily – and we have an example in front of us – shape the way these companies do business.
Mind, it does not have to be so – look only at how exemplarily orthodox Verrecchio is! Look at the Remnant, and let us not forget Catholic Family News! I am sure I forget many other worthy initiatives! – but it can very easily be so, because the pressure will be not only unavoidable, but at times subtle and not immediately perceived as a “request to sell out”. Which can lead to people with the best intentions ending up doing the wrong thing. As in the case of the – certainly sincere – rich donor who appears to have a problem with the most beautiful example of Catholic orthodoxy of the planet, the SSPX, and of the journalist – certainly sincere – that allows himself to be led to a wrong position by the former.
There is a price to pay for professional Catholicism, and it can be a rather subtle one. There is an unavoidable price in opportunity and revenue few are ready to pay, though – let me say it again – we see several examples of people ready to pay it. Others, like Church Militant, pay a price of undue influence to which they would not have been exposed as a non revenue generating operation. Other still, like Patheos or the Catholic Herald, will just be weather vanes of smaller or bigger heretical content.
There is certainly a place for professional Catholicism. I do not see the Remnant, or Verrecchio, as influenced by turnover considerations. But these are examples of rare beauty, because they are clearly run by souls of rare beauty. Out there – in the big world of cameramen and cameramen assistants, of commercial space rented and fitted, of equipment and travel expenses – things will, very often, look different.
There is a danger built-in in professional Catholicism. The danger is very real. Compare the different outlets and judge for yourselves who is and who isn’t affected.